With the growth of last-mile commercial vehicles comes new challenges. And at the top of the list is keeping these trucks and vans in tip-top shape, lest operators incur excessive downtime that will hamper their ability to meet demanding delivery and appointment schedules.
For this, maintenance providers must keep a close eye on everything from tires and brakes to headlights and doors (which open and close at a much higher frequency than other duty cycles).
While keeping the fleet rolling is obviously paramount, another critical consideration is its appearance. Each vehicle is the face of the delivery company, meaning that it must be kept nice and clean, as a dirty, grimy, greasy exterior is off-putting to many customers. This must prompt the operators of delivery/service companies to invest in a vehicle wash that is capable of efficiently and reliably delivering a clean vehicle once it returns from long hours on the road, many of which can feature difficult travel routes and harsh conditions.
The problem inherent in achieving a spic-and-span delivery vehicle is that many of the newer model units are taller than the old-school plumbing vans and hotel shuttles that stand 7.5’ (90”). In fact, many next-generation delivery vehicles stand at a non-traditional 9’ tall (108”).
This means vehicle washes that are built for vans of a traditional height are too small to accommodate the newer models. Some wash manufacturers do offer bus washes that can service vehicles up to 12’ (144”) tall, but if the fleet operation also features normal automobiles, the clearance between 12’ and 6’ or 7’ is too big to cover consistently, accurately, or efficiently. And not many fleet operators are willing to install two different sizes of washes, whether they be tunnel, in-bay automatic (IBA), or drive-thru technology.
The final challenge with maintaining newer models revolves around time, namely the amount that is needed to successfully complete the wash process. It stands to reason that a larger vehicle will require more time to wash. That not only keeps the vehicle sidelined for longer but can also result in higher water usage and electricity bills.So, the sweet spot in developing a wash that can meet the needs of the new fleets of taller delivery vehicles would be one that meets the height requirements, can still service smaller vehicles, and can do so in an optimized amount of time with no excessive amounts of water or electricity required.
Developing washers for a changing market
The seeds of a solution were planted 30 years ago when Belanger developed the insta-KLEEN Drive-Thru Fleet Car Wash System. Based on Belanger’s proven Classic (now known as Legend by Belanger) tunnel wash line, insta-KLEEN was created as a severe-duty, drive-thru vehicle wash system designed to meet the unique needs of car dealers, rental car agencies, and other businesses that employ a fleet of vehicles.
The insta-KLEEN system was built on the foundation of Belanger’s Legend wash line: a heavy-duty, aircraft-grade aluminum framework that houses minimal moving parts. Instead, when motion is required, the system actuates the wash process through the use of automotive-rated bearings and lube-free pivot points that are built for reliable, maintenance-free operation and long service life. Additionally, unlike “rollover” systems that require the entire wash unit to sweep over each vehicle, the insta-KLEEN framework remains in place, allowing it to achieve a high level of structural integrity.
But what truly separates the insta-KLEEN from the competition is the promise that it can deliver a clean vehicle in 60 seconds or less. This not only gets the vehicle back on the delivery route quicker, it also means that less water and electricity are needed to facilitate the wash process. Energy is also saved through the fact that the system doesn’t have to move over the vehicle, meaning it can require as little as 4 hp of electrical power per wash. In terms of water consumption, freshwater usage is minimal, especially if the wash is outfitted with a water-recovery system.
Belanger, which became part of OPW Vehicle Wash Solutions (OPW VWS) in 2019, was not willing to rest on its laurels when it came to optimizing the capabilities of the insta-KLEEN. With a little bit of “necessity is the mother of invention” serendipity, an OPW VWS client specifically asked if the company had a vehicle wash that could meet the height requirements of the increasingly popular sprinter-type vans two years ago. OPW VWS had also periodically received inquiries as to whether or not it offered a taller drive-thru fleet wash.
While OPW VWS did not count a wash like that among its product portfolio at the time, the decision was made to take the insta-KLEEN technology and modify it—which mainly consisted of adding additional supports to the design—so that it could be used to wash the taller vehicles that were starting to flood the market, all while still being able to meet the wash needs of traditional fleet vans and automobiles.
The result was the insta-KLEEN XT Drive-Thru Fleet Wash System, which was introduced in 2020. Most notably, the insta-KLEEN XT has a vehicle clearance of 114” (9.5’), which enables it to accommodate taller vans while maintaining the ability to wash a vehicle of that size completely and reliably in 60 seconds or less.
The insta-KLEEN XT also offers the same features as the original system: port-proof drive-thru design; stationary aircraft-grade aluminum framework; automotive-rated bearings; lube-free pivots; guardrails that guide the driver through the wash; bolt-on wear parts that are easily accessed, serviced, and replaced; and soft-start motor controls that protect the equipment.
The insta-KLEEN XT can also be customized to meet the unique needs of the operator’s wash offering through the availability of accessories like Prep Jet, Blast Arch, Water-Reclaim System, DuraTrans XD Conveyor, Presoak Arch, Wave Low Side Washer, DuraScrubber Tire Cleaner, Spot-Free Rinse, and a wide array of dryers.
Whatever you choose to call them, the next generation of delivery and service vans have become ubiquitous. Keeping them clean and presentable should be a front-of-mind concern for the operators of these fleets. The features, benefits, and capabilities of the insta-KLEEN XT are built on the three-decade in-the-field successes experienced by the original insta-KLEEN system.